Friday, 16 November, 2018

Trump's Campaign Chairman Flipped On Him And People Are Flipping Out

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort Jose Luis Magana Associated Press File Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort
Ray Hunter | 15 September, 2018, 12:17

Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to two criminal charges on September 14 as part of a deal with federal prosecutors that concluded the second trial for the veteran political operative.

But given Manafort's pre-existing financial connections to Russia, his agreement to help prosecutors with further investigations will most certainly feed speculation and theories that there's more to these relationships than we're now publicly aware of, beyond what we've been told about Russian lobbyists offering stolen emails and data from Hillary Clinton's campaign to Trump's team.

A Virginia jury convicted Manafort last month on bank and tax fraud charges.

Manafort's plea deal follows agreements that Mueller's team had already reached with Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Manafort's former deputy Rick Gates.

The plea deal allows Manafort to avoid a second trial scheduled to begin next week in Washington.

It also includes Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty last month to breaking campaign finance laws - charges that were brought by the USA attorney in Manhattan - after referral from Mueller. The two conspiracy counts he admitted to on Friday each carry up to five years, though Manafort's sentence will ultimately depend on his cooperation. In return, Manafort will not face a second trial in which he could receive more severe punishment.

"I plead guilty", Manafort said.

In recent days, as the Manafort plea talks were ongoing, the President's legal team expressed confidence that if Manafort signed a cooperation agreement it wouldn't have anything to do with the President, according to a source briefed on their thinking. In August, Manafort was convicted at trial in Alexandria, Virginia, on charges that pre-dated his stint on Mr Trump's campaign and involved his work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

As part of the deal, Manafort has agreed to forfeit four properties in NY and Virginia, as well as funds held in several bank and investment accounts and an insurance policy.

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Manafort is still subject to whatever sentence is imposed in the Virginia trial.

Manafort's involvement in the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Natalia Veselnitskaya (a Russian lawyer and self-described informant), and Russian operatives is also of interest to Mueller.

The decision by Trump's onetime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to plead guilty last month in a federal investigation in Manhattan particularly angered the president, who denounced him as a "flipper".

Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The charges replace a raft of separate accusations that Manafort had failed to register as a foreign agent, lied to the government, laundered money and committed fraud.

"For months, as part of their joint defense agreement, they would have been strategizing together", Schiff noted, adding that Manafort might be able to share information on "what conversations" Trump might have had with Manafort "after the charges were brought against him".

Manafort, 69, earned tens of millions of dollars lobbying for foreign governments and spent that money freely, including on a $15,000 ostrich coat, landscaping and real estate. "'Justice" took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a "deal.' Such respect for a courageous man!"

As with the Virginia case, the trial in Washington focused on criminal charges that largely predated Manafort's time with Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

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